Many of you have asked us what the word “kaleela” means and why we decided to use it for the name of our Arabic Language Learning application. As a result, today we’re going to give you a little back story on the name. Hopefully, afterward you will see why it’s such a great name for us to use for our application. So, let’s get started.
Kaleela and Dimna (kalila wa dimna in Arabic) is a book of fables and one of the most widely-read and significant books ever written. Many have revered this book for its tales of wisdom that uses animals and birds as the main characters. Even today, its wise sayings are repeated throughout the world by kings and paupers alike that have read it. The book is made up of 15 chapters that originated in India. However, it was the translation of the book into Arabic that helped it spread like wildfire throughout world.
The titular characters are actually two jackals, brothers Kaleela and Dimna who are doorkeepers of the lion king. Kaleela is the wise, practical jackal while Dimna is the sly, ambitious one. One day, Dimna, wanting to gain the king’s favor and become a trusted member of his court, hatches a plan. Kaleela, however, is hesitant of Dimna’s plan and tries to talk him out of it. Dimna, ever ambitious, ignores his brother’s warnings and manages to get inside the king’s court. There, the lion king notices his silver-tongue and Dimna quickly moves up the ranks. He has now become the lion’s closest advisors.
One day, a farmer’s ox got stuck in the mud, and despite much effort, the farmer couldn’t get it unstuck. He goes home and sends his servant out to try to dislodge the ox, also to no avail. So, the servant abandons the ox named Shatrabah and tells his boss that it died.
In the meantime, Shatrabah, manages to free himself. Afterwards, he goes over to a nearby field where the grass is plentiful. Shatrabah hopes he can live out the rest of his days in peace there. However, he soon becomes lonely – so lonely, in fact, that he starts to wail. The wails become so loud that lion king can hear them in his palace. As a result, he becomes afraid to go outside. Stories of a gigantic beast with large horns that could tear a lion in two only compound the lions fears
Dimna didn’t like seeing the king in this fearful state. He also didn’t like that it caused the king to miss his royal responsibilities of roaming around his kingdom. As a result, Dimna went by himself to confront Shatrabah. He told the ox, “The king wants to see you. If you don’t come, well, the king has a lot of predators on his court. And they are predators who would love some oxtail stew, if you know what I mean.” Shatrabah did, indeed, know what Dimna meant, so followed Dimna back to the palace.
What happened next surprised Dimna, however. The ox and the lion king became fast friends with Shatrabah taking Dimna’s place as the king’s confidant. As a result, Dimna became jealous with rage and vowed to take down Shatrabah.
After confiding in his brother Kaleela, who again rebuked Dimna for his plans, but again, Dimna did not listen to Kaleela’s sage advice.
Instead, Dimna first went to the lion king and told him Shatrabah was plotting against him and wanted to take the throne for himself. At first, the king was doubtful of Dimna’s accusation. After all, Shatrabah, seemed a meek, gentle soul.
However, after much silver-tongued talk, Dimna finally convinced the king to confront Shatrabah and reminded him that a traitor’s punishment was death. However, knowing that if the ox and the lion king were allowed to talk, they would find him out, Dimna added another caveat for the king. “If you see his legs trembling and he is moving his horns as if to charge you, then know what I say is true.”
In the meantime, Dimna also paid a visit to Shatrabah. He told him that the king was going to turn on him and along with the other members of the court eat his flesh. Shatrabah couldn’t believe it. After all, he had done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment. However, again, with his silver-tongue, Dimna managed to convince Shatrabah that the king and all of those on his court were against him. “If the king approaches you with his mouth open and his chest out, know that he is there to kill you.”
Dimna then went to his brother, telling him how his plan was working so well, asking him to come see the showdown for himself. However, Kaleela was wise enough to know that nothing good was going to come from this plan, so he stayed behind.
As the two met, they both were acting precisely as Dimna had said and lunged at each other. In the end, Shatrabah was dead and the lion king was badly wounded.
When Dimna returned to Kaleela, his brother quickly rebuked him, saying that eventually Dimna would pay a fatal price when they had finally found out what he had done. And indeed, at the same time, the lion king was licking his wounds. He regretted that he had killed his dear friend and suspected Dimna was at fault for it.
Also at the same time, a leopard who was lurking nearby heard Dimna brag to his brother about his evil deeds and the subsequent rebuke by his brother. Thus, he immediately ran to the king’s mother and told her everything he heard, swearing her to secrecy.
The next day, the mother of visited her son, the lion king. After seeing how sad he was that he had killed his best friend, the mother took no pity on him. “My son, why did you not research what was true or not before you killed him?”
Just then, the jackal Dimna showed up and eventually got into an argument with the king’s mother. Finally, she could hold her tongue no longer. She told the lion king everything. Though he tried, Dimna’s silver tongue could no longer save him. As a result, the lion king threw Dimna in jail.
While in jail, Kaleela visited Dimna. Kaleela told Dimna that he warned him of his plan and not to carry it out. Dimna confessed that he should have paid attention to his brother’s advice, but didn’t. Unknown to the both of them was the fact that somebody was paying attention to them, however. A cheetah in jail at the same time as Dimna overheard his confession. As a result, he said he would testify against Dimna.
Eventually, Dinma’s case came before the court. The judge asked for witnesses to come forward against Dimna, reminding them that those who didn’t were awaiting harsh punishment in the hereafter. Though some pigs tried to slander Dimna, his eloquence allowed him to get out of his situation.
During this his trial, Kaleela became so sick with grief and guilt, he died as a result. Rawzbah, another jackal informed Dimna of his brother’s death. The news made Dimna very sad. Eventually, the lion king pressured his mother into telling him who told her about Dimna’s plan. She confessed that it was the leopard. Both the leopard and the cougar appeared before the court. Their testimony was enough for the judge. Dimna was executed soon after.
Though other tales in the book of fables mention jackals, this is the only story that mentions Kaleela and Dimna by name. However, one can guess from the other stories which one could be Dimna and which one could be Kaleela by their actions. Dimna, who may be as clever as his brother, uses his cleverness for ill will, while Kaleela uses his wisdom for good.
For example, there is story where a jackal convinces his lion friend that he can get rid of his scabies by eating the heart and ears of a donkey if he bathes before eating them. So, the jackal lures a donkey to the lion which eventually kills it. However, while the lion goes to bather, the jackal eats the donkey’s ears and heart. Obviously, the trickery and deceit of this donkey can be attributed to Dimna.
However, there is another story about a lioness, a huntsman and a jackal. In this tale, while the lioness is out hunting, a horseman takes the cubs of the lioness and kills them for their pelts. Upon her return, the lioness discovers the dead bodies of and cries out, “How could anybody do this to another’s young and innocent offspring?” Hearing her lament, a passing jackal ask the lioness, “Well, isn’t this a fine example of what goes around, comes around?” The lioness asks the jackal to explain.
“Well”, says the jackal, “do you not do the same as the huntsman when you go out and take the children of your prey to eat? Do they not grieve for their children as well?” The lioness agreed and becomes a vegetarian as a result. This wisdom, used to make something good, can surely be attributed to Kaleela.
As you can see from the examples above, Kaleela is wise, patient, and level-headed and passes what he learns on for others to benefit from it. The best teachers also possess some of these same qualities. As a result, doesn’t it make sense that an app designed to teach you Arabic should have a name that suggests you will learn Arabic from someone with all of these qualities? So, that’s why we named it Kaleela, after the wise, patient and level-head jackal that passes on the benefits of his wisdom to others.
Besides the jackal, the Muslim baby name Kaleela means “sweetheart” and “beloved” and we think after learning Arabic with the Kaleela Arabic Learning App you will think it’s a “sweetheart” of an application and find you won’t be able to go long without your “beloved” app.
Find out for yourself exactly what we mean by downloading the Kaleela Arabic Learning App today from kaleela.com.
Kaleela – Learn Arabic the Right Way!